Sine Qua Non Raven #1 Grenache 2006
"The 2006 Raven Series Grenache (a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah with 25% whole clusters used) comes largely from the 11 Confessions Vineyard with a tiny dollop of Bien Nacido Syrah added to the blend. Having spent 21 months in barrel, it is a prodigious effort, but is not quite at the level of the brilliant Naked Truth. Meaty, bouquet garni, licorice, and pepper notes as well as loads of black cherry and blackberry fruit are present in this beauty. Silky tannins along with good structure, density, and firmness suggest another year or two of aging will be beneficial. It should evolve for 10-15+ years.
Passing through what looks like a junkyard (or the first or second level of hell) to get to the warehouse of both bodily and spiritual pleasures called Sine Qua Non, is a hoot and a howl, but well worth it if you can somehow wrangle an appointment with the reclusive proprietor, Manfred Krankl. Tasting here is one of the highlights of my year, and all my expectations were satisfied if not eclipsed by what Krankl has made in 2007 and 2006. Oh, and there is one utterly perfect late-released 2005. Yields in 2007 were exceptionally low, with the Syrah averaging 1.5 to 2 tons of fruit per acre, Grenache 1.3 tons per acre, and the white grapes 1.28 tons of fruit per acre. Put another way, Krankl's highest yields averaged a meager 1.05 to 1.55 pounds of fruit per vine. That in large part explains the compelling aromatics, texture, richness, and intensity of these wines. Add to that the compulsive viticultural work and fanatical attention to detail in the winery, and it's no wonder Sine Qua Non remains one of California's most remarkable reference points of world-class wines. The good news is that the first wine from the new home vineyard in Ventura County, the Cumulus Vineyard, has been produced. Moreover, the continued brilliance of the other estate vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills, 11 Confessions, is confirmed. Over the last few years I have not been able to taste through the Sine Qua Non wines without coming across one that merits a three-digit score. The final wines to be bottled under the 'Mr. K.' moniker include the 2006 The Nobleman and 2006 The Strawman. As some readers may know, this partnership between the famed Austrian, Alois Kracher, and Manfred Krankl has finally come to an end because of the tragic death of Alois Kracher, who fell victim to pancreatic cancer at age 49. The Mr. K. offerings have been remarkable wines that showcased the talents of both of these great winemakers.' R. Parker, 96 pts. 08/09